DS talk: Meng Yang, Distributed Ledger Technology and Privacy-preserving Computing Technology for Genomics and Healthcare

Join us online as Meng Yang from MGI Tech and University of Copenhagen will give a  Decentralized Systems Seminar Talk on distributed ledger technology and privacy-preserving computing technology for genomics and healthcare.


Adopting blockchain/distributed ledger technology and privacy-preserving computing technology for genomics and healthcare applications have become an emerging interdisciplinary topic. Despite its increased prevalence in biomedical research applications, skepticism is still strong about the practicality of blockchain and cryptography technology in a real-world problem, as the implementation of such systems are few. Therefore, we aim at developing two scenarios of data-alliance, one demo using a public blockchain to store and share patient outcomes of gene-drug interaction pairs with the goal of improving the process of drug development and enabling personalized medicine, another one using a consortium blockchain to create standard data alliance for consensus interpretation of genetic disease. 

We have made this consortium blockchain run in real-world applications. This database is at building up a BRCA genetic test interpretation standard for the Chinese population. BGI, together with five other big gene sequencing companies in China, aggregated more than 2,000 unique BRCA I/II variants of the Chinese population in the first phase of the project. The blockchain infrastructure is introduced to realize the following goals: 1) Immutable, traceable data submission with a full audit trial process. 2) Smart contract to define data flow, data format, quality check and query API standard. 3) Digital signature for publicly available data source affirmation, hash check of private data (phenotypes, family history etc) for public-private bidirectional traceability and peer-to-peer authorization for private data. 4) Consensus vote for VUS interpretation update with recording all history update. This data alliance is supervised and guided by the IVD Department of National Institute for Food and Drug Control for the purpose of regulation control and diagnostic standard development. We are also working with pharmaceutical companies and hospitals to join this data alliance for potential companion diagnostic SOP development and clinical decision making.  

We also demonstrate the applicability to execute classical genome-wide association study (GWAS) using secure multi-party computation without compromising each party's private data ownership. We are now developing the whole work flow of the main GWAS pipelines to facilitate cross-organizational cooperation in the field of population genetics.


Meng Yang is Head of Innovation Center at MGI and Ph.D. fellow at the University of Copenhagen.


All are welcome. No registration required. The talk is held on Zoom. To join, please click here.

Hosts: Fritz Henglein (DIKU, University of Copenhagen) and Thomas Hamelryck (DIKU and BIO, University of Copenhagen)